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Buffaloes Blow Lead, Fall To Bears 57-55

Colorado scores two points in the final four minutes to lose second Pac-12 game

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

No deficit seems insurmountable for California when they play Colorado.

Two years ago at the Coors Events Center, Colorado led the Bears by 12 with just over 12 minutes to play, only to lose 68-55.

Last year in Berkeley, the Buffs held a 16-point first half lead, in a 59-56 CU loss.

Friday night, No. 17 Colorado led 50-40 with only 5:58 to play. From that point, No. 19 California went on a 14-2 run to close the game, winning 57-55.

"Towards the end when we needed a stop, we didn't step up to that challenge," said Lexy Kresl.

Colorado was able to get Cal leading scorer Reshanda Gray (16.8 ppg) in foul trouble in the first half, which helped the Buffs take a 28-18 lead into the locker room.

Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb challenged her team to match Colorado's energy at halftime, and she helped jumpstart the Bears by calling for full-court pressure.

Cal's pressure led to nine second half Colorado turnovers, but for about the first 14 minutes of the second half, the Buffs were able to compensate for sloppy ballhandling with defensive stops and offensive production from Arielle Roberson, who had 21 points.

A Roberson three-pointer gave CU a 50-40 lead with just under six minutes left. Cal responded with a jumper from Afure Jemerigbe and a free throw from Courtney Range. Jen Reese answered with a jumper to put the Colorado lead back at 10 with just 4:08 left to play.

From there, Cal would rattle off 11 quick points to claim a one-point lead with 1:58 to play. The Bears and Buffs exchanged defensive stops until Linda Lappe called timeout with 25 seconds to play.

Out of the timeout, Colorado found Roberson, who was fouled by star point guard Brittany Boyd, her fifth, with just 16 seconds to play. Roberson sunk both free throws, giving Colorado the one-point lead.

Gottlieb took her final timeout, drawing up a play that saw Jemerigbe drive on freshman guard Haley Smith. Jemerigbe absorbed contact and hit a layup with seven seconds to play.

"We knew they were going to either go to their post players, or go to (Jemerigbe)," said Lappe. "We put Haley Smith on her, who's a little bit bigger defender, (Jemerigbe) was driving right at Lexy probably the previous two or three possessions. I think most of (Jemerigbe's points) came in the last three minutes of the game."

Colorado took timeout in the backcourt with five seconds to play. The ensuing inbounds pass was stolen by the Bears' Courtney Range, who hit one-of-two. Reese grabbed the rebound and tossed to Kresl, who missed the half-court shot off the backboard.

Next up for Colorado is a shot at No. 4 Stanford Sunday afternoon.

Notes

Arielle Roberson went 8-of-11 from the floor. The rest of the Buffs? 13-of-45 (29%)... Colorado suffers its first loss at home this season (8-1)... Colorado's bench outscored Cal 21-11...

Player of the Game

Afure Jemerigbe - Cal's combo guard went scoreless until the final 5:15, when she scored eight points, including the game-winning shot with seven seconds to play.